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Noble FirAbies procera

  • Northern Red Oak - Quercus rubra

The noble fir has most certainly earned its name, particularly because it is the largest native fir in North America. This tall, narrow tree features a long, columnar trunk and conical crown with short, nearly horizontal branches. It is a long-lived pioneer tree, meaning that it often comes in aggressively after a disturbance such as fire. And because of its quality and strength, the wood of the noble fir is valued over the wood of other true firs.

A subalpine tree, it is found in the Cascade Range and the Coast Ranges of the Pacific Northwest of Washington and Oregon and in southwestern Canada. Trees with cone and needle characteristics of noble fir, however, have been reported in northern California.

Hardiness Zones

The noble fir can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–6. View Map

Tree Type

This is an evergreen tree, keeping its foliage year-round.

Mature Size

The noble fir grows to a height of 50–100' and a spread of around 30' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow to Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12" to 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The noble fir prefers deep, moist, cool, well-drained, acidic soil but will tolerate thin, rocky soils with good moisture.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Features needles spreading in 2 rows that are bluish-green with white lines and 1–1½" in length. They are distinctly curved at the tip, grooved above and ridged beneath.
  • Yields cylindrical cones 6–10" in length that start out green, turning purplish-brown at maturity. The cones are mostly covered with papery green bracts and are held upright on the topmost branches. Seed crops vary with location from every 1–6 years.
  • Develops bark that is gray-brown and smooth, becoming dark gray, brown or reddish-brown and furrowed into irregular, long, scaly plates. Its bark is think compared to other trees.
  • Grows in a pyramidal shape.

Wildlife Value

The seeds are food for chickadees, jays, nuthatches and many other bird species. The seeds are also eaten by Douglas squirrels, mice and other rodents, and the bark is browsed by black bears. In addition to food, the noble fir provides cover and thermal protection for wildlife.

History/Lore

The Noble fir gets its name from the Latin Abies nobilis. It held this scientific name for a long time until it was discovered the name was pre-empted by another species. Other common names are red fir, white fir, and larch.